Robin van Persie’s dramatic injury-time equaliser earned Manchester United a point at home to Chelsea, who looked as though they’d won at Old Trafford thanks to Didier Drogba’s header. Here are some lessons Mark Jones learned:
United Could Have Lift-Off
The key thing about United’s slow start to the season was that—Everton at home apart—they really hadn’t faced too many tough fixtures, with a run of them now coming up and starting here.
The fact that a draw was rescued from the jaws of defeat by Van Persie could prove to be so crucial for them ahead of those games. They aren’t going to win the league, but a prolonged and successful chase for a top four finish is imperative for them this season, and a defeat here would have seriously damaged those hopes.
This is a point which could get more important the longer the season goes on.
Didier Drogba’s Still Got It
In truth the giant Ivorian had had a pretty quiet time of it in the first half, with his best chance seeing him shoot straight at the legs of David De Gea when he probably could have done better, but goals put a different gloss on everything, and especially ones which copy one of your most famous strikes.
Drogba’s near post header here was a tribute act to his goal in the Champions League final against Bayern Munich, the match which everyone thought was his last for Chelsea until this season’s emotional return.
The 36-year-old isn’t back with Blues for a long time just a good one, and this will be one of the best.
Getting It Right From Corners Is Important
Drogba was aided in that goal by Manchester United’s decision to put the full-back Rafael on him from Cesc Fabregas’s corner, something which wasn’t the sole reason for the goal but was undoubtedly a very odd call.
United aren’t the biggest side and Chelsea are massive, but surely Robin van Persie—stationed on the line but unable to stop Drogba’s header—would have been a better player to mark Drogba than the much smaller Rafael? And there were others wearing red for whom that would apply to, too.
Juan Mata Missed His Chance To Impress
Even when he was scoring goals at the back end of last season and the beginning of this one, there has always been something not quite right about Juan Mata at Manchester United.
Many assumed that this was down to the presence of Wayne Rooney in the side and therefore the Spaniard getting shunted into different positions, but perhaps it is to do with the manner of his departure from Chelsea, against whom he never really got going here before being replaced by youngster James Wilson midway through the second half.
Whether Mata will ever get back to the being player we once saw impress at Stamford Bridge remains to be seen, but he seems to be getting further and further away from that level.
Nemanja Matic Remains Imperious
There simply isn’t a better defensive midfielder in the Premier League than Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic, who was once again superb in the sort of match which is made for him.
Despite the added complication of a booking in the first half, the Serbian strode through the match and managed to protect his defence in the manner that his opposite number—United’s Daley Blind—would be wise to copy as he seeks to nail down a long-term place as United’s shield to a flimsy back four.
Much was made of an improved display by Marouane Fellaini up against Fabregas, particularly in the first half, but there was only one star midfielder on the pitch.
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